My current favorites are:
Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas.
This book addresses the story stakes, meaningful characters and much, much more. All of Maass’ craft books are worthwhile.
Story, by Robert McKee. Analysis of story structure, character and emotional arcs.
How to Write a Damn Good Novel, by James Frey. The king of conflict takes us back to the basics of dramatic storytelling. You literary novelists out there would find this useful as well.
Story Engineering and Story Physics, by Larry Brooks. Brooks uses the rules of screenwriting to help novelists shape their stories, that and much more. As with Donald Maas, all of Larry’s books are worth reading.
Scene and Structure, by Jack Bickham. How to orchestrate story between scene and sequel. Alas, I keep hearing about this one from my fellow critiquers.
Honorable mention goes to:
If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland, for inspiration.
Writing Down the Bones, By Natalie Goldberg, for free writes.
Bird by Bird, by Annie Lamott, for shitty first drafts.
What are your favorite writing books?